Monday, October 22, 2012

Peanut Butter Biscoff Oreo Brownie Cupcakes

I'm a woman of few words these days, but I will say that if you're an Oreo, peanut butter, Biscoff, or brownie lover, then these are the treats for you - huge bonus if you love them all. Each component somehow manages to make the other taste even better than if they were on their own.

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Halloween Polka Dot Brownie Cheesecake Bars

I know it's only the first week of October and I'm already all up in your grill with Halloween treats, but I figure it will be here before you know it, so you'll be thanking me soon enough. Or not. Whatever. 

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Mushroom, Spinach, and Ricotta Pie

Okay, so I know what you're thinking.  

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Italian Ricotta Cookies


I had an industrial-sized hankering for some chicken quesadillas the other night. 

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Almond Joy Cupcakes


1 box devil's food cake mix - I used Duncan Hines
½ cup canola oil
3 eggs
1¼ cup coconut milk
24 single bars of Almond Joy, Bounty, or Mounds 

Coconut frosting:
cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely shredded coconut
⅔ cup coconut milk 
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or paste
½ teaspoon coconut extract

Chocolate coating:
2 cups good, quality chocolate wafers or chips
1 teaspoon vegetable shortening

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners; set aside.  

In a large mixing bowl, prepare cake mix according to box, with the exception of changing up the water to coconut milk. 

Place a tablespoon of cake batter into each cup and coat the bottom, I used a skewer to evenly coat it.

Place a coconut chocolate bar on top and cover with more batter, filling it until ¾'s full. 

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool for a minute or so. Remove from tins and transfer to a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. 

Using a mixer, beat butter until fluffy. Carefully add powdered sugar and coconut milk. Add vanilla and coconut extracts. Mix well. Add coconut and blend until incorporated.

Line cupcakes onto a tray. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes into a mound shape and place an almond on top. Place tray in freezer for 5-10 minutes to help solidify for dipping. 

Melt wafers or chips along with shortening in a heatproof dish for about a minute or so. The dish needs needs to be deep enough as well as wide enough to dip cupcakes into. Use care when melting chocolate as you don't want to overheat chocolate. It can and will seize up. 

Once chocolate is melted, remove cupcakes from freezer a few at a time and dip until frosting is coated. Once I dipped, the almond's shape from inside didn't show up, so I added one on top of cupcake as well immediately after it was dipped. 

Place in refrigerator to allow chocolate to firm up.

 Yields: 24 Almond Joy Cupcakes. 

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Caramel Cashew Cookies

I took my daughter to her bestie's birthday party this past weekend. 

The event was held at a super fun indoor play center - a place we visit frequently when the weather is less than stellar to release some pent up energy that somehow and for some reason only seems to occur in kids. Especially mine.

Anyway, there were about 3 or 4 other birthday parties in motion at the same time, so as you can imagine, a space that is very large when empty can get pretty busy and confined the more bodies you cram into it. This, however, is not my issue. 

My issue is the mothers of the children that are invited to these parties. Now, let me just say that I'm not sitting here saying I am a perfect Mom or Mother of the Year - not by a long shot and far from it, but what the hello operator is wrong with some of these women? And just to clarify, I'm not talking about any of the mothers at the party we were invited to. They were all lovely. 

What got my knickers in a twist this particular day was four mothers standing around, pointing out random children's outfits and how awful they were!

As my mouth was on its way down to the ground, I was like, 'Did I hear what I think I just heard?' Are you kidding me? Your have to stoop so low and talk about a child? Yes, I understand that we are all entitled to our opinions, but there are just some topics one doesn't discuss - especially in public. Let's not even talk about the hurt the Mom of one of those children would have felt had she been privy to that conversation.

It took all my wits not to lose the plot and whack them upside the head with a double issue of Better Homes and Gardens that was sitting on the table next to me.

What's even more remarkable was as soon as one of them left the group, to use what I assume was the facilities, the three other women actually started talking about her! When did I step into an episode of Real Housewives of the Sad and Pathetic?

As if the universe heard me mentally complaining, a few minutes later, no word of a lie, one of them got rammed in the back of the leg by a kids Cozy Coupe car, lost her balance, and spilled her coffee on the woman next to her.

Seriously, you can't make crap up like this. It was FABULOUS. I don't think I ever laughed so hard at someone else's misfortune. Too bad she wasn't wearing all white, but the light pink top was good enough for me. 

Moral of the story: Make cookies, not gossip. No one gets emotionally hurt that way. 


2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt 
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1¼ cup cashews, roasted, salted, and chopped 

Caramel Drizzle

24-28 caramel cubes
¼ cup heavy cream 

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking soda together. 

In a separate bowl, using a mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined.

Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture and blend until incorporated. Add cashews and stir with wooden spoon. 

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour in refrigerator.  

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheet with silicone mats or parchment paper.
Using a medium ice cream scoop with a retractable mechanism, scoop out dough and place on prepared baking sheets. 

Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown. Mine took 11 minutes.
Remove cookies from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheets for several minutes before transferring to a wire rack. 

To make caramel drizzle:

Place caramels and heavy cream in a non-stick saucepan on stove over medium heat; stir frequently.  Once caramel starts to bubble, remove from heat, continuing to stir until cubes are completely melted. Using a large spoon, drizzle over cookies.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pots de Crème - *Gluten-free & Dairy-Free!*

I had a funny email from a reader not so long ago. Not 'haha' funny, but more like interesting funny. 

Actually, the more I think about it, it wasn't really funny at all.

I wasn't sure how to address it, so I thought posting it would be the way to go. This way, I can refer back to it if needed.

I'm paraphrasing just a bit here, but was asked, "Why don't you have anything posted about yourself? I know nothing about you aside from what you share in your blog. I would love to know what makes you tick."

I sat and thought pretty hard about this question. The only thing I could come up as to why I haven't said anything is because there really isn't much to say. I'm just, well, me. Nothing fancy, nothing frilly. Just me. I mean I do understand how one would like to know the person behind the blog, I really do and I totally get it, but I've never been one to talk about or bring attention to myself, so it seems a bit weird if I'm honest.

After some contemplating, I came up with some things you may be interested to know about me. If you're not, hey, I won't be offended. Just scroll right past and down to the amazeballs Pots de Crème recipe and whip yourself some up. It's unbelievably easy peasy and totally delish! 

A Ditty about Me.

My name is Jenny, not ‘The Brunette Baker’, believe it or not. I HATE to be called Jen and I absolutely cringe when people call me Jennifer, although I won’t correct people that do either. I’ll just secretly judge you.

I have the best husband a girl could ask for as well as two incredibly funny and amazing kids. They are my life, my world, but I have never forgotten who I am.

I am a Christian and I absolutely love the Lord. He is my personal savior and I will defend Him until my last breath. However, I'm not this perfect little Christian who does right all the time and I won’t pretend I am. I’m flawed. I say 'shit' a lot. People piss me off daily, but I still love Jesus and consider myself a work in progress. I won’t shove my beliefs down your throat, but if you want to talk about the Lord or want me to pray for you or with you, then I’m your girl.

I am a very loyal and trustworthy friend. I am kick ass. Yeah, I said it. I enjoy being around people and I am very social, but I’m also a good judge of character, so if you gain my trust, you are a friend for life. If you manage to slip through my cracks somehow and betray or disrespect me, you will lose me forever. I forgive, but I do not forget and I’m not dumb enough to let you back into my life. There are no do overs with me. Harsh, but true. Friendships are something that should not be treated lightly or loosely and I feel there are way too many people that don’t understand the word ‘loyal’. If you can’t accept that, then you need to move onto the next person that feels the same way you do. People that gossip need not apply.  

I am often very misunderstood. Imagine that.

I love to read. I have been known to have 3 books going at once and can keep up with each storyline and characters. 

I am a tidy and organized person, but my laundry room is an absolute disgrace on any given day.

I’m a germaphobe. I clean my bathrooms with rubbing alcohol. I figure if doctors swab my arm with a alcohol pad before an inoculation to prevent anything entering my bloodstream, it’s good enough to kill the germs on my toilet. It hasn’t let me down yet.

I can’t ignore a homeless person on the street no matter how hard I try. I ultimately end up talking to them and buying them something to eat. Not that I’m looking for a pat on the back with that admission, but it truly breaks my heart. Unless you know their entire life story, don’t judge. 

I adore children and being around them. I am a huge advocate for charities that work closely with them. 

I carry dual citizenship of the United States and Canada. I will defend both if provoked.

I am a science geek to the core. I can still recite many of the elements and their symbols on the Periodic Table as well as most of the 206 bones in the body.

I will never own a manual transmission car. Ever. I have tried to drive one at least 20 times in my life and failed. Miserably. I just can't get the hang of it. 

I enjoy being alone.

I hate having my photo taken. HATE. IT.

My ultimate dream is to own and operate a bed and breakfast. 

I have an insanely weird fascination/borderline obsession with airplanes. I’m in complete awe how they work, but I’m actually a really bad flier.

I own more socks and bowls than most people should. 

I love Mexican food and could eat it everyday.

That's about it.

Now go and make someone smile. 

Recipe slightly modified from The Pioneer Woman

1½ cups good, quality semisweet chocolate chips - I used Ghirardelli
4 large eggs, at room temperature*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch salt 
1 cup VERY HOT strong coffee
1 cup heavy cream**
2 tablespoons sugar

*It is important the eggs are at room temperature in this recipe. If you forget, just place them in a bath of hot water for 10-15 minutes. 

**Can be omitted for a dairy-free option. This is also a gluten-free treat!

Place the chocolate chips in the blender. Pulse several times to cut down the size of the chocolate chips to allow for easier melting. Add eggs, vanilla, and salt. Turn on the blender and allow to mix for a minute or so.


Remove inner cap of the blender lid and pour coffee through in a steady stream. It is extremely important that the coffee is VERY HOT. I brewed a cup and threw it into the microwave for a minute to ensure the hottest temperature. This step is crucial as it will melt the chocolate and help 'cook' the eggs. 

Place the inner section back onto the lid and blend mixture for about 3 minutes until smooth and creamy.


Pour mixture into small cups or dishes. Place on a tray and refrigerate them for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.

Whip the cream with the sugar and place or pipe a dollop onto the top of each dessert.

Yield: About 6-8 servings. 

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